Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), revealed his six predictions for the future of the digital age. The predictions are probably included in his new book entitled The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations, and Business with Jared Cohen, head of Google Ideas, as co-author.
In the book, the authors discuss possible scenarios on earth where all people are connected digitally. According to them, the world will become a universal web, increasingly technology driven.
The two executives of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) envision that the world will be transformed by people for better or worse. Schmidt and Cohen wrote, “This is a book about technology, but even more, it’s a book about humans and how humans interact with, implement, adapt to and exploit technologies in their environment, now and in the future … For all the possibilities that communication technologies represent, their use for good or ill depends solely on people. Forget all the talk about machines taking over. What happens in the future is up to us.”
Schmidt and Cohen predicted six possible scenarios that might take place in the future including:
1. Online privacy classes along with sex education will be taught in schools.
According to the authors it is necessary for parents to become more involved with their children if they want to make sure that they will not make mistakes online that could harm them.
Schmidt and Cohen explained, “As children live significantly faster lives online than their physical maturity allows, most parents will realize that the most valuable way to help their child is to have the privacy-and-security talk even before the sex talk.”
They also think that some parents would choose unique and unusually spelled traditional names for their children to have an edge in search results, making them easy to find and promote without direct competition online.
2. The world will be online by 2020 with the rise of mobile web.
Mobile phones are transforming how people in developing countries access and use information. The authors noted that adoption rates are soaring. In Africa alone, they estimated that there are 650 million users, and almost 3 billion across Asia. They emphasized, “What might seem like a small jump forward for some — like a smartphone priced under $20 — may be as profound for one group as commuting to work in a driverless car is for another.”
As an example of how mobile use changes the lives of people, they cited that a fisherwomen in the Congo who used take fish in the market and sometimes ended up watching her catch spoil now wait for calls from customers, and leaves the fish in the water.
3. News Organizations will be out of the breaking news business as it would become difficult for them to keep up with the real time sources of information such as Twitter.
Schmidt and Cohen point out, “Every future generation will be able to produce and consume more information than the previous one and people will have little patience or use for media that cannot keep up.”
According to them, news organizations will remain an important part of society, but many will not survive in their current form. Those that do survive will adjust their organizational structures, methods, and goals to meet changing demands.
4. Online cloud data storage will continue to emerge as the norm and it will radically change how people view privacy.
Schmidt and Cohen believe it is possible that some of personal content will be published and become known by mistake or criminal interference. They wrote, “People will be held responsible for their virtual associations, past and present, which raises the risk for nearly everyone since people’s online networks tend to be larger and more diffuse than their physical ones.”
5. Revolution will occur in nations (more casually and more often than at any time in history) with oppressive government as the web expands.
According to the two executives of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), groups and populations all over the world will seize their moments with new access to virtual space and to its technologies. They emphasized, “Many leading these charges will be young, not just because so many of the countries coming online have incredibly young populations … but also because the mix of activism and arrogance in young people is universal.”
6. More people will attempt to use technology for terrorism, but it would be easier to find terrorists because of their web presence.
Schmidt and Cohen believe that terrorism will not disappear, and it will continue to create destructive impact. However, they pointed out that the terrorists of the future will be forced to live in the physical and virtual world and therefore their model of secrecy will suffer.
They wrote, “There will be more digital eyes watching, more recorded interactions, and, as careful as even the most sophisticated terrorists are, even they cannot completely hide online.”